Creating a Strategic Roadmap / Playbook

One of the things we’re continuously working on at OneSpring is how to help clients translate their vision into actionable strategies. A vision can be established for a business, a team, or even a specific product; it doesn’t matter because the premise is the same. A vision is an idea of what an individual, group, and/or entire company hopes to achieve over a period of time. A strategy, on the other hand, is a playbook, or a detailed roadmap, for how to put the vision into motion and achieve its goal. It’s important to note that a strategy is not a vision, and vision is not a strategy. A strategy is the embodiment of a vision in action.

Where many companies and individuals fail is that they’re not able to clearly communicate their vision to others to gain alignment and understanding on the steps the team must take to achieve the vision. One side-effect of having a lack of clear vision is an organizational misalignment. Organizational misalignment leads to duplication of efforts across the company and can create disjointed teams within an organization – all pointing in different directions.

It may be evident that the best starting point is to have a clear “vision” that can be easily communicated and shared. The tricky part is how to create a workable plan around the implementation of the vision. One way we’ve seen this accomplished is through the use of a Strategic Roadmap. A Strategic Roadmap is a visual representation of the strategy that helps communicate the approach in a clear and concise way that can be easily understood by many stakeholders. When everyone understands the approach, it can be put to work more effectively. A Strategic Roadmap is more than just a pictorial view of the plan; it also communicates the data that supports the approach to provide merit and rationale behind the strategic business decisions. Also, the data shows the source research and insights that were collected based on internal and external information gathering to help substantiate the data quality and validity. Based on this evidence, the Strategic Roadmap can communicate a cohesive set of targets and goals established over a period-of-time, all pointing toward achieving the desired vision. The targets and goals may be system level efforts, research efforts, product development, new features, or more.

To create a Strategic Roadmap, you must do three things; 1) You must validate your vision through research and questioning, 2) You must outline a plan that can be easily shared and communicated to build alignment, and 3) You must confirm it can be achieved with the resources available. Let’s look at each of these steps in a bit more detail.

To validate your strategic vision, it must be shared and understood by your audience. While a vision can be as simple as a written statement, it can help to visualize your vision using an infographic or even a mock-up or prototype to help clarify and better communicate the “why?” and “what?” aspects to drive a shared understanding. Having a more robust means of communicating your vision also increases the types of feedback you can receive through research and questioning. For example, a prototype can be tested in a usability lab to determine feasibility. Alternatively, an infographic can be presented in a marketing focus group to evaluate viability as well. Once you’ve validated your vision, socializing it with your team will help you build consensus and allow for further refinement and validation from your peers. In this instance, having a visualization to share is a more powerful and engaging method to utilize during this step of the process. The visual representation can be leveraged as a “feedback” mechanism to gather additional thoughts, perspectives, and questions to be addressed throughout the process. This approach allows you and your team to strengthen the business case and supporting design for your vision and strategic roadmap. Lastly, confirming the strategy and items within the roadmap are achievable is a crucial step in any Strategic Roadmap endeavor. To that end, as you socialize to inform your audience, it is essential you collaborate with channel partners and internal IT, Marketing, Quality, Security, and other key stakeholders to receive their valuable input on the feasibility and viability aspects. This step not only helps you ensure stakeholder “buy-in” for your vision but enables you to verify critical requirements from both a business and technical perspective that will ultimately drive a successful outcome when your Strategic Roadmap is implemented.

 

About the Author:
Jason Moccia has over 18 years of experience in the software development field is the CEO of OneSpring LLC (www.onespring.net). OneSpring helps companies to work smarter by providing an entirely new approach to designing solutions.

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